A young boy, facing horrible conditions, finds solace in a strange place.
|The bright rays of the sun illuminated a grassy patch in Credenza Park, where Mason and one of his closest friends, Angelo, tossed a football between the wide yards that separated them. Minutes of perfect catches had flown by, before Mason hurled an airborne ball that zipped above Angelo's head and crashed into a row of short staffed palm trees.
"What happened, man?", Michael yelled to his friend across the park.
"You know you throw too strong sometimes," Angelo said as he dashed to retrieve the ball from the center of the palm trees. While this occurred, Michael spotted a worn, dented, Sedan with thick black patches over the roof and windows. A tiny ,beat up, car drove into the park abruptly coming to a halt, the woman whom emerged from it slammed the door closed with enough force to rattle the windows. She was a slightly overweight woman draped in a blue coat over a rank white tee, black pants, and black boots. She took a lengthy swig of vodka before stepping foot in the park, cold slightly glazed eyes scanning the foliage before landing on the boys with a menacing glare. Mason looked on with fear.
"Oh shit," he remarked to himself.
"Mason!" the woman yelled as she shakily approached him, "I called you a thousand damn times and you didn't even pick up".
"Sorry, step-mama," Michael said, "Angelo had me turn my phone off because he didn't..."
"I don't give a damn about Angelo," she snapped, "Now get your little football so we can go home!"
Michael ran over to Angelo, who tossed him the football. They gave each other a strong pat on the back before Michael walked with his stepmother to the old, blue, sedan. He placed himself in the passenger seat as she sat back in the driver's position. The aroma of cigarette smoke and alcohol consumed the interior of the car, while dead cigarettes and candy wrappers polluted the front seat cup-holder. His stepmother tuned the radio to a hip-hop station, where a rowdy, raunchy, club song played as she maneuvered her way out the parking lot. She kept a restrained silence, carrying a fire in her cloudy eyes, until her car touched the slightly congested and oak-tree decorated Lanceville Highway.
"Mason, what in the hell is wrong with you?" she asked in a low, angered, tone.
"I apologize," Mason said, "I didn't know you called because my phone..."
"Stop making excuses!" she roared, "You should've kept that phone on in the first place! You had me worried like hell! I drove all across this damned town trying to find you and you couldn't put that ball down to check your phone! I was about to just give up on you before I saw you at the park. I have enough drama at work without your little ass stressing me out."
"I understand," Mason said, "I promise I won't let this happen again".
"You don't understand shit!", she yelled, "And those little promises you make mean nothing. Three months later, and it's a guarantee you're gonna pull another stunt like this, maybe worse".
"Why don't you believe me?" Mason said, "I made a mistake, and I realized what I did wrong, but you keep putting me down".
"Look boy," she said with a growl, "Every time you fuck up, you always come crying to me with some sappy bullshit excuse. It's pathetic, just like you, so you leave me no option but to bring you down".
"I don't like how you always dismiss what I'm saying. Every time I slip up, you always degrade me. Just hear me out!"
The car stopped with no warning, lurching Mason forward only for him to be snapped back by her fist tightening his collar dangerously around his neck. Her eyes were ablaze with pure fury and her breath was toxic, Mason wondered slightly how she still was alive with the lethal amount of alcohol she consumed as if it were mere child's play. Her tone dropped deathly low and she words left no room for rebellion in any way.
"I don't have to hear nothin', you're still a child, I don't need your two cents on everything. Keep talking back and your ass'll be red".
"Okay," Mason whimpered. Tossed to the side like trash the car moved forward radically. He faced the window and murmured to himself, "That attitude is why you barely have friends or a man".
"Boy, what the fuck did you say?!". Her raging and thunderous voice caught him by surprise.
Out of fear, Mason trembled and said, "I...I didn't say anything".
"Stop lying and tell the truth," she responded, giving him a death glare. Not wanting to enrage her further, Mason sighed, and began to speak in a soft, almost baby-like tone.
"I said 'Your attitude is why you barely have friends or a man'". He swallowed in a large gulp of air and looked at his stepmother. She picked up her bottle of vodka with one hand while steering with the other, and began to rapidly chug it down. Fearing the consequences, Mason looked out of the window, staring at the magnolia groves lining the highway that seemed to scroll endlessly. For a second, it seemed as if these trees took his focus off of his stepmother and shifted it onto nature. However, the shards of glass violently penetrating the corner of his head and the resulting trail of deep crimson nearly purple blood gave him a painful lapse back into reality.